The Antioch Review
, America's oldest continuously-produced literary journal, chose to run an essay called "The Sacred Androgen: The Transgender Debate" by Daniel Harris. (Harris is the author of Diary of a Drag Queen
, in which he discovers that he is no longer young and handsome enough to attract other gay men, but that if he cross-dresses he can attract "straight" men. ) If you want to see Harris's badly-written anti-transperson rant
, it's here. You Have Been Warned. Many transpeople have already laid out, in detail, why this rant is both bigoted and factually incorrect. Before (if) you read the following, read what Gabrielle Bellot, a transperson,
has to say.
In response to the anger, Antioch College issued a statement
that said, in part, " Antioch College does not condone or always agree with the ideas and viewpoints expressed in the Review. We do, however, have confidence in the Review’s editor and editorial process, and support a key Antiochian value -- the free expression of ideas and opinions, even when they run counter to our own. As a college, we encourage our students, faculty and the broader community to engage in critical thought and dialogue around important issues, including this one."
"Critical thought" has a meaning. It does not encompass "a core dump of unexamined prejudice presented as fact." For an essay to represent critical thought, it must first and foremost be an essay, not a blog post. An essay has a thesis; each paragraph must be connected to the previous and following paragraphs, unless that paragraph is specifically noted as starting a new argument. A hypothetical "critical thought" anti-transpeople essay ought, at a minimum, to meet this standard in order to be published in a literary magazine.
Let's examine the first five paragraphs of this "essay". I'm summarizing with bonus snark.
- Transpeople (referred to as "TGs" for some reason; I'm not going to reproduce this tic further) are human.
- It sucks to be them because violence, murder, HIV, unemployment, ...
- "Many commentators" have said they ought to have civil rights which ought to be addressed by both "politicians and everyday citizens."
- Transgender people are mean to cis people by expecting cis people to change their behavior.
- They have "entangled us in a snare of such trivialities as the proper pronouns with which to address them, protocol as Byzantine and patronizing as the etiquette for addressing royalty. They insult us with the pejorative term “cisgender,” which they use to describe those of us who accept, however unenthusiastically (it. mine.) , our birth gender, as opposed to the enlightened few who question their sex. Moreover, they shame us into silence by ridiculing the blunders we make while trying to come to grips with their unique dilemmas, decrying our curiosity about their bodies as prurience and our unwillingness, or even inability, to enter into their own (often unsuccessful) illusion as narrow‑mindedness."
- [I can't even].
- Janet Mock was mean to Pierce [sic] Morgan. "Mock organized a kind of witch hunt in which she accused the liberal and tolerant  Pierce Morgan of having, in her words, “misgendered” her merely because he had questioned her about her past and leapt to the conclusion—medical records would surely bear this out—that she had in her youth changed her gender."
- Cis people are being oppressed.
- You can't tell cis people what to think. "TGs cannot expect to dictate to us the terms of the discussion, for we are thinking people, too, and nothing, notwithstanding many activists’ attempts to embarrass us into uncritical consensus, can stop us from thinking our thoughts. " Here are my thoughts.
- Trans plastic surgery is different from other kinds of plastic surgery.
- Everybody hates other kinds of plastic surgery anyway.
- Donatella Versace's, Tara Reid's, and Kim Novak's bodies are especially gross. I note in particular Tara Reid's breasts.
- [topic sentence] Michael Jackson's face was gross, too.
- "And yet what is the actual difference between Michael Jackson whittling his nose down to a brittle sliver of bone and whitening his skin with alpha hydroxy acid and arsenic in order to efface his blackness and the TG sanding down her brow bone and hacking off a sizeable chunk of her mandible in order to efface her gender?
This is not an essay. This is incoherent core-dump bigotry. No competent literary editor would ever have printed it unless they shared its bigotry. There is no other reason to print it. The university cannot hide behind "confidence in the Review’s editor and editorial process" when the Review made an objectively bad editorial decision, as evaluated by the usual standards of writing, independent of the usual standards of everyday decency.